Two first-time novelists have made the 2008 Booker Prize shortlist, while Sir Salman Rushdie, who was widely tipped for the award, failed to make the cut.
Aravind Adiga and Steve Toltz are in the running for the prestigious prize with their maiden novels.
Linda Grant is the only woman to make the list, along with former nominee Philip Hensher, Sebastian Barry and Indian writer Amitav Ghosh.
The winning writer will be handed the £50,000 prize in London on 14 October.
Bookmakers William Hill have installed Barry as the favourite to win, with odds of 2/1.
Michael Portillo, the Booker chair of judges, called the six final works "intensely readable", adding they are "extraordinary examples of imagination and narrative".
BOOKER PRIZE - ODDS
The White Tiger Aravind Adiga - 5/1
The Secret Scripture Sebastian Barry - 2/1
The Sea of Poppies Amitav Ghosh - 7/1
The Clothes on Their Backs Linda Grant - 4/1
The Northern Clemency Philip Hensher - 8/1
A Fraction of The Whole Steve Toltz - 3/1
Source: William Hill
"These books are, in every case, both ambitious and approachable," he added.
For the first time, extracts of each shortlisted novels will be available to download onto mobiles.
This year's shortlist contains writers from a broad geographical spread, with two Indian authors, two from the UK, one from Ireland and one from Australia.
Indian first-time novelist Adiga is the youngest in the running at 34.
Hensher and Grant were both shortlisted in 2002, but failed to scoop the prize.
The winner can expect to receive added recognition and an upturn in sales.
Sir Salman, who made the longlist with his novel The Enchantress of Florence, was widely expected to proceed to the shortlist.
He first won in 1981 for his work Midnight's Children, which was named "Booker of Bookers" to mark the award's 40th anniversary earlier this year.
Midnight's Children also won a special award in 1993 for the literary prize's 25th anniversary.